Heroin: Addiction and Detoxification

By Galia Reuveny


The combination of ear acupuncture, TCM1 and Electro-stimulation has been used to relieve withdrawal symptoms, prevent the craving and increase the rate of participation of drug addicts who were undergoing conventional long-term in-patient detoxification treatment programmes.

Sixty-six patients were involved in this research study, each experiencing withdrawal symptom. This pilot project was focused on, and investigated, the subjective experiences of these patients. The study has used MYMOP2 questionnaire and in-depth TCM interviews to record the health changes perceived by heroin addicts going through a detoxification programme.

It extends previous studies in that it has focused on the process, experience and perceptions of the patient; and it explores individualised diagnosis and treatment using a TCM approach. Detailed follow-up interviews have been conducted to determine the patients’ health 3 months after the course of treatment.

The findings of the research show that patients experienced a range of different physical, mental and emotional changes, and also that most patients’ withdrawal symptoms and craving for heroin were reduced to a manageable level.

It is hoped that, these research findings will offer a possible non-chemical detoxification alternative for addict& who do not wish to receive medication, and will be a resource for acupuncture practitioners within the field of drug addiction.

1) Throughout the text, TCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The standard referring to TCM organ system is by printing their initial letters. For Chinese medical terms, see G. Maciocia, The Foundation of Chinese Medicine, Livingstone 1989.
2) MYMOP, ‘Measure Yourself Medical Outcomes Profi1e’ (Paterson 1996). A questionnaire chosen ~ai as an evaluative tool.